AbbVie has ended its Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease collaborations with Voyager Therapeutics.
Voyager announced the termination of its tau and alpha-synuclein “vectorized” antibody development accords this week, explaining it retains full rights to the candidates and the vectorization technology on which they are based.
Voyage spokesman Paul Cox told us “AbbVie exercised its right to terminate for convenience in accordance with the terms of the agreements,” citing the firm’s 8 K Filing.
Under the original deals Voyager was to carry out early phase research with AbbVie agreeing to make further payments when the projects entered advanced development.
And until this week the collaboration appeared to be working. In November voyager CEO Andre Turenne told analysts “Our work on a vectorized antibody against pathological species of alpha-synuclein with our partner, AbbVie is progressing faster than expected in light of the early learnings from our anti-tau vectorized antibody efforts.”
AbbVie’s decision comes a year after Sanofi decided not to exercise its option to acquire rights to candidate gene therapies for Huntington’s disease and Friedreich’s ataxia.
The tau and alpha-synuclein candidates are based on Voyager AAV vector technology. The idea is that viral vectors filled with gene encoding antibodies cross the blood brain barrier and deliver their contents into cells of the central nervous system.
Expression of these genes results in the production of antibodies that target the diseases in question.
The approach overcomes the delivery challenges that have hindered development of antibody-based CNS disease treatments according to Voyager’s R&D head Omar Khwaja.
“Our efforts to harness AAV-based gene therapy to produce antibodies directly in the brain and overcome major limitations with delivery of current biologics across the blood-brain barrier have been highly productive.”
He added, “We believe our continued work on discovery and design of novel AAV capsids with substantially improved blood-brain barrier penetrance will also considerably broaden the potential of AAV-based gene therapy, including vectorized antibodies or other biologics, for the treatment of severe neurological diseases.”
This was echoed by Cox, who told us “We have made considerable progress in the vectorization of antibodies and will continue to explore programs in this area, both independently and in partnership.”